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Student Showcase goes virtual

Nearly 300 students showcase their hard work and accomplishments in an online format

Spring semester is always an exciting time for Colorado Mesa University students as they get the chance to showcase their skills, talents and educational growth in presentations seen by peers, faculty, family members and the community. This week marks the eleventh annual Student Showcase, only this year student projects are being showcased virtually.

Before COVID-19 knocked the world off course, 580 students planned to participate in the nearly 300 projects that were submitted. The fear that the 2020 Student Showcase would be canceled dissipated when over half of those students were able to move their projects to an online format.

"We are extremely happy and also very grateful," said Showcase Director and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs for Student and Faculty Success Aparna Palmer, PhD. "We went from thinking that this event would not be possible to realizing that it would be possible with the determination of the students and their faculty sponsors as well as the help of some very important faculty and staff at the university."

Computer Science and Engineering students Bryn Loftness, Matthew Behnke, Emerson Flom and Jane Pohorecka created Foodi, a mobile app that would offer meal suggestions and dishes geared toward users' specific food palates.

"The original idea for Foodi was envisioned by a fellow student, Hector Salas. He brought his idea to the annual Go@CMU event to get feedback. My software engineering group (from the Senior Capstone Software Engineering Computer Science Course) also attended Go@CMU to find a potential client for the course. Hector brought forward an idea about a mobile application and website that would allow people to expand their taste buds and their usual dining spots in a well-thought-out, personalized manner," said Loftness. "We were interested in this idea, so we decided to take on the Foodi project. Our system consists of a mobile application (for both iOS and Android) for users of the Foodi program as well as a website for restaurants to submit information about their entrees and retrieve analytics about common consumer ingredient/food patterns."

Loftness, who participated in last year’s Showcase, said this year came with new challenges.

"It was definitely a whole different playing field doing a showcase presentation virtually, especially with a group of four. We went through several practices and several video attempts before we reached our final version. It was tough switching between screens and ensuring quality volume performance (no one is accidentally muted, too loud or too quiet)," said Loftness. "Though it is definitely not the same at all, it is still really nice how they've put it all together. There are a lot of projects in different areas that are now easier to view than if they were all scheduled for one day in-person, so I guess that's a plus!"

Students who participate in the showcase work for weeks and sometimes months and even years to prepare these projects.

"The Student Showcase is a testament to the creativity, innovation, research, artistic performance and entrepreneurship that helps fuel the student experience at CMU," said Palmer.

It is also an enormous learning experience and helps set students apart from other candidates when it comes to their future endeavors.

"Employers and graduate schools love to see that a student has gone above and beyond their regular coursework to build their skills in a variety of areas including designing projects, problem-solving, thinking critically, working independently, doing research, taking feedback, communicating, collaborating with a team, writing for an audience, speaking in public and performing," said Palmer. "These are all sought-after skills and they are exactly what we strive to give our students as part of their education at CMU."


Written by Kelsey Coleman